Uniquely Canadian Holiday Traditions, From Coast to Coast

From Réveillon to "mummering," here are some of the unique ways Canadians celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

Canadian holiday traditions - French feast
Illustration: Jeff Kulak

Canadian Holiday Traditions

A French Feast

Réveillon is a traditional feast that starts after church service on Christmas Eve and lasts until the wee hours of Christmas morning. First celebrated in 19th-century France, the Canadian menu includes tourtière, ragoût de pattes de cochon—pigs’ feet stew—and bûche de Nöel.

Check out more traditional Canadian food—and the best places in the country to find it.

Canadian holiday traditions - mummering
Illustration: Jeff Kulak


Since 1819, Newfoundlanders have participated in mummering, dressing up in costumes and masks, knocking on their neighbours’ doors and disguising their voices. Once inside, mummers—also sometimes called jennies—dance and sing while their hosts try to guess who they are.

Don’t miss our guide to common Newfoundland sayings.

Canadian holiday traditions - Jamaican cuisine
Illustration: Jeff Kulak

Jamaican Cuisine

“Jamaican Christmases in Canada are relatively the same—it’s just the food that’s different. Instead of turkey and ham, we have curry goat, curry chicken, rice and peas and callaloo.” —Rapper Kardinal Offishall, Huffington Post

Discover Canada’s most magical drive-through light displays.

Canadian holiday traditions - Christmas tree
Illustration: Jeff Kulak

Tree Gift

After the devastating Halifax Explosion in 1917, the city of Boston sent medical personnel and supplies to aid in the recovery. The following year, Halifax sent Boston a Christmas tree—and has done so annually ever since.

Check out the best Christmas markets across Canada.

Canadian holiday traditions - funny ornaments
Illustration: Jeff Kulak

Crèche Surprises

“I was always adding my own toys to the mix. There was a giraffe fawning over the baby Jesus, and Papa Smurf stood with the three kings… My dad would notice them and yell for me to get them out.” —Author Heather O’Neill on her family’s crèche, Huffington Post (December 24, 2018)

Read the heartwarming story of one Muslim family’s first Christmas in Canada.

Canadian holiday traditions - smorkage
Illustration: Jeff Kulak


“A Danish butter cake called smorkage. It’s that heavenly combination of pastry and almond paste. Christmas isn’t Christmas without it.” —Author Esi Edugyan on her favourite holiday treat, Huffington Post 

Don’t miss these funny holiday stories shared by our readers.

Canadian holiday traditions - kwanzaa
Illustration: Jeff Kulak

Kwanzaa Week

In 2018, Toronto dedicated the week between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 as Kwanzaa week, the first such proclamation for the holiday—a time when the African diaspora celebrates family, community and culture—in Canadian history.

Want to experience these Canadian holiday traditions firsthand? Here are the best places to spend Christmas in Canada.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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